Violence Against Indigenous Women: Restoring Resilience
This presentation aims to increase awareness of violence against Indigenous women and expand discussions about culturally relevant mental health treatment for complex, intergenerational trauma. Practical considerations for interventions (e.g., increasing cultural awareness and tapping into resilience) are relevant across multiple disciplines.
Violence against Indigenous Women is a core tenet of colonization and has remained a long-standing crisis. Indigenous women to North America are 4.5 times more likely to be victims of violence than the general population (Saramo, 2016; Rosay, 2016). Indigenous peoples have faced generations of violence and assimilation efforts, resulting in the transmission of intergenerational trauma (Isaacs et al., in press), leaving families and communities with complex trauma and grief (Tehee & Straits, 2020). The impact on the individual and the community creates deep wounds adversely affecting mental health, community cohesion, and support. Invisibility, lack of attention given to violence against Indigenous women by anyone outside the local community, and false narratives further compound the wounds.
We will provide a historical, sociopolitical context for violence against Indigenous women within the United States. The current crisis is also related to structures such as media that perpetuate stereotypes and racial discrimination. We will discuss the current status of policies geared toward alleviating violence. As psychologists, we recognize there is a lack of research literature that addresses clinical applications for treating unresolved grief and complex trauma in Indigenous communities (Zimmerman et al., 2011; Brave Heart et al., 2011; Evans-Campbell, 2008; Ross et al., 2020; Warne & Lajimodiere, 2015). We will show a resilience-focused approach that supports survivors, families, and communities in a culturally relevant way.
While ultimately, the solution to this crisis is to eliminate the cause, until this occurs, we must identify those who could benefit from services, train responders and providers, and provide accessible Indigenous mental health survivor treatment.
This session was originally presented as a live conference session in April 2021.
At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:
- Identify sociopolitical and historical contexts that contribute to violence against Indigenous women
- Assess different approaches to understanding and treating complex and intergenerational trauma for culturally-relevance
- Formulate who to include in support structures for violence against Indigenous women (such as survivors, families, and communities) specific to discipline or area of practice
Presenter: Melissa Tehee, JD, PhD
Presenter Bio: Dr. Melissa Tehee, JD, PhD, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is an assistant professor at Utah State University in the Department of Psychology, Director of the American Indian Support Project, and Assistant Director of the Mentoring and Encouraging Student Academic Success program for Native American students at Utah State University. Dr. Tehee’s clinical and research interests are in addressing trauma across the lifespan. Her research has focused on domestic violence and other trauma experienced by ethnic and racial minorities, especially American Indians. Her other interests include multicultural competence and mentoring ethnic minority students in higher education. She earned dual degrees in Clinical Psychology, Policy, and Law (Ph.D./J.D.) with a certificate in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy at the University of Arizona. Dr. Tehee has a Master of Science in Psychology from Western Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Nebraska.
Presenter: Racheal M. Killgore, MA
Presenter Bio: Racheal Killgore is a member of the Diné. Her maternal clan is Towering House born for White People clan. Racheal is from Gallup, New Mexico, and currently resides in Logan, Utah. Racheal is a graduate student in the Combined Clinical/Counseling Psychology program at Utah State University. Her research interests include violence against American Indian and Alaskan Native Women.
Presenter: Sallie Mack, MS
Presenter Bio: Sallie is a doctoral student in the Combined Clinical/Counseling PhD Program. She graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in psychology and emphasis in community psychology. Following graduation, Sallie worked at the Grady Nia Project, a hospital-based program and research project under Emory University for 2.5 years. This project focused on researching culturally informed and compassion- and mindfulness-based interventions for suicidal African American women with histories of intimate partner violence. This work sparked Sallie’s interests in trauma and suicide prevention in diverse and underserved populations, health disparities, and culturally informed interventions. Sallie is passionate about holistic and integrative approaches to wellness, with a focus on the intersection of physical and mental health. She is currently researching how trauma experienced in early life affects both mental and physical health outcomes in diverse populations.
Presenter: Devon S. Isaacs, MS
Presenter Bio: Devon Isaacs is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and graduated with a BA in Psychology from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In 2016, Devon received the American Indian Mentorship Award from Northeastern State University’s Center for Tribal Studies for her work in conducting research to benefit Native American peoples. Currently, Devon is a doctoral student at Utah State University in the Clinical/Counseling Combined PhD program with an emphasis in Rural/Multicultural Psychology. She is a recipient of the Presidential Doctoral Research Fellowship. Her research focuses on the intersection of culture and mental health, with an emphasis on risk and protective factors for Native American youth. Devon hopes to teach at the university level to address the need for providing culturally relevant support to diverse students seeking careers in the social sciences.
Presenter: Erica L. Ficklin, MS
Presenter Bio: Erica Ficklin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Alabama in December 2016. Erica is a proud member of the Tlingit and Lakota tribes. She found her passion for psychology from her mother and grandfather after learning about the mental health issues experienced by the Native American community. Erica began the Combined Clinical and Counseling doctoral program in 2017 with an emphasis in Multicultural/Rural Psychology. She is currently researching disabilities in Native American youth, mentorship, cultural competence, and education and learning styles among Native Americans. Erica is also a member of the Society of Indian Psychologists and hopes to help other Native American students develop their research interests and attend graduate school through her role as a SIP Student Representative.
Disclosure: No financial relationships or conflicts of interest
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